Sonoma County was all a-twitter between 1896 and 1908, everyone talking about the pros and cons of people replacing their trusty horses and mules with something they were calling an “auto-mobile. ”
Would this become a trend here?
Was such a device actually feasible?
There were a lot of doubters.
In 1896, The Cloverdale Reveille opined positively, “The horseless carriage is much more capable of control than the ordinary horse. ” Over in England, Parliament had set the speed limit at 14 mph for horseless vehicles. They estimated that, “The cost of fodder with regard to a horse traveling 20 miles a day was two pence/mile, while a horseless vehicle was just a ha-penny/mile – with less wear and tear. ” However , in California, the Sacramento Union said, “The horseless carriage is useless on bad roads. The country must demand and secure better highways. ” Some predicted, “The horseless carriage will never come into such common use as the particular bicycle. ”
In 1899, the U. S. experienced 10 million bikes and just 4, 000 autos. Two years later, after Henry Ford had made his first one, typically the number associated with autos got doubled to 8, 000. The Duryea had been this first American firm to build one (in 1893). It was powered by the single cylinder four-horse gas motor.
The N. Y. Times stated this about it: “The speed of which they are capable intoxicates and bewilders the senses. Nevertheless , it lacks one of often the most attractive components regarding driving in the companionship of your horse. ” The San Francisco Call Editor more-or-less echoed that opinion, phoning the automobile, “The darndest thing I’ve ever set eyes upon! ”
The particular horseless buggy had begun to take-on the moniker “automobile” by 1899. Typically the Sacramento Daily Union called them “auto-cars, ” as “auto-fever” began to spread. Support services, such because gas stations plus repair shops, began popping-up by 1901 as the derisive shout involving “Get a new horse! ” was heard frequently. A local joke in our Petaluma Courier was aimed at mule-driven buggies, contacting those “horseless carriages. ”
The Courier also commented in ‘99, that, “Mayor Jesse connected with Santa Rosa boarded a new horseless carriage that acquired arrived on the Steamer Gold here, and was soon spinning into the street at 15 mph. It will be small, almost noiseless in addition to two gasoline motors furnished the power. It took simply an hour in order to get to be able to Santa Rosado! ”
In one Petaluma editorial simply by S. H. Olmsted, he called the exact car, “Unquestionably, the greatest advance made in transportation. The progress of the industry has been encouraging and they (U. S. autos), compare with the best European makes. ” He continued, “Autos are likely to play an important part within military operations too. This signal corps just purchased three of these. ”
But the auto-evolution was not exactly smooth. In 1903, it was announced inside a Marin County newspaper that the particular conservative Rev. Crosby possessed asked typically the Board with Supervisors for you to enact an ordinance excluding autos from Marin County.
“It has its drawbacks and limitations, ” this individual said for the car. “It will maim people. It offers a future, but it’s place is not throughout Marin. ”
In ‘04, the Santa Rosa Republican ran an article headlined “Auto For The Horticulturalist: Luther Burbank to become initiated in to the mysteries from the horseless buggy. ” That vehicle has been an Oldsmobile Runabout. 1903 also saw the 1st transcontinental auto trip across the nation from San Francisco to help New York City. This took 63 days.
By 1905, there were 6, 500 autos, trucks and motorcycles here around California, yet road and even street construction lagged behind. A new composition of crushed rock together with oil had been called “macadam” and helped smooth things out.
Within Petaluma, it was announced, “Mr. Van Bebber previously had his wife for some sort of ride on the car of his own construction, in the 4th about July Parade. ” But then, as a good sign in the times to come, a local headline said, during all caps, ”MEETS WITH DISASTER, “ then, “J. H. Lewis in car wreck, loses life. Was going 8 miles per hour and machine became unmanageable and struck a stone. ”
At the time, Sonoma Region officials were aggressively debating the speed of automobiles, suggesting that will automobile velocity around the highways should not be less than 10 mph and that autos should stop in the signal of a raised hand through any persons driving horses. Also, this said that cars “must carry one rear lamp showing a red light. ”
This was because there seemed to be almost no road lighting anywhere.
But by 1906, The Auto Club of California began placing road signs on streets and even giving out maps. And San Francisco’s Pioneer Car Co. was advertising in our Petaluma Courier that year, “Selling Wintons, Oldsmobiles, Thomas Flyers, Mercedes and Racines. ” Their slogan: “Wise men study various autos before they buy. We are selling to such wise men. ”
Mainly “wise men”, with money, I would suspect.
In 1908, Henry Ford put out his “Model T” for $850 bucks ($25, 000 today) plus initiated something called “Mass Production, ” to great world-wide fanfare. He sold 10, 500 “T”s by1910, the same 12 months the California Highway Act provided 18 million dollars for the construction and improvement of our roads and streets. A decent street then cost about $10, 000 a mile in order to build.
In other news associated with 1899, both the Opel in addition to Fiat Motor Cos. opened in Europe, U. S. Congress approved something these people called “Voting Machines, ” Germany’s Bayer Co. patented the Aspirin, the Bronx Zoo opened up in New York City and the world’s first Zeppelin took to the particular skies.
Meanwhile, here in good ol’ Sonoma County, something called “resorts” were popping up then. Our excellent climate and even agriculture – including Sonoma County wine grapes – were encouraging Swiss, German, Italian together with Portuguese emigrants to take note and build hostels and additionally wineries here.
Oh yeah, one more item: the chicken industry has been getting going here too then, and that was the start of 1 more big hot trend for that world.
We were once again all a-twitter over that, as well.
Skip Sommer is an honorary lifetime member regarding the Petaluma History Museum and Heritage Homes, and was Petaluma’s Good Egg in 1985. “Petaluma’s Past” runs typically the first Friday of this month within the Argus-Courier. You can reach Miss at [email protected] com.